Many websites proclaim the dangers of feeding nuts of any kind to dogs. While some nuts are extremely toxic, others may provide benefits for pet health.

Potentially toxic nuts to avoid:

  • Macadamia nuts – Ingestion of macadamia nuts by dogs has been associated with a non-fatal syndrome, characterized by vomiting, ataxia or weakness, fever, muscle tremors, hind limb paralysis, and depression. Dogs are the only species in which signs have been reported.
  • Black walnuts – Black Walnuts, native to Northeastern U.S. and Canada, are toxic to horses and dogs, but non-toxic to cats. Dogs ingesting old walnuts off the ground have the potential to develop tremors and seizures from walnut hulls that are moldy and contain penitrem A.
  • Pecans – Pecans contain the toxin juglone that can cause laminitis in horses. Feeding dogs pecans can cause gastric intestinal upset or an obstruction. Moldy pecans can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause seizures or neurological symptoms.
  • Hickory nuts – Hickory nuts also contain the toxin juglone that can cause laminitis in horses. Eating hickory nuts can cause gastrointestinal upset or an intestinal obstruction. Moldy hickory nuts can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause seizures or neurological symptoms.
  • Acorns or Oak nuts – in small amounts can cause hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and possibly obstruction. In large amounts, a toxic substance called gallotannin which causes kidney damage and kidney failure. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea (with or without blood), abdominal pain, inappetance and lethargy.

Not toxic, but beware:

  • Peanuts and peanut butter – technically a legume, not a nut, but most people consider this in the same category as nuts. Peanuts have a high potential to be contaminated with aflatoxins (molds) that can cause liver inflammation and failure, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, lethargy, coma, and death. Peanut butter is commonly sweetened with the artificial sweetener, xylitol, which is toxic for dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure or even death.
  • Cashews – Cashews are always sold shelled because the oil in cashew shells contains the same powerful toxin found in poison ivy. Any residual shell oil is eliminated during the process of cooking or roasting; cashews are never considered safe. Another dangerous toxin can be found in mold on cashews. Ingesting moldy cashews can lead to liver failure in people and dogs.
  • Brazil nuts – very high in fat. Potential for pancreatitis due to high fat content. Also pose a choking or obstruction hazard.

Not toxic:

  • Almonds – these are hard to digest, so are better served as a ground paste or milk. Beneficial properties include treating sinus infections, cough, and dry eye by draining phlegm.
  • English walnuts – these are warming and support kidney Qi. Beneficial for declining kidney function and urine leakage. Best served in small portions, finely ground, as they are hard to digest. Avoid moldy nuts which contain toxins that will cause tremors and seizures.
  • Pistachio nuts -Pistachios are rich in fat and can cause an upset stomach. In addition, repetitive eating of pistachios can cause pancreatitis in your dog.
  • Hazelnuts – these are nontoxic, but do pose a choking and intestinal obstruction risk if swallowed whole.
  • Pine nuts – high in fat, like all nuts. Potential for pancreatitis if overfed.
  • Chestnuts – high in fat, like all nuts. Potential for pancreatitis if overfed. Choking and obstruction hazard.

For more information on the energetics and benefits of nuts from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, click. here.

Photo by Vitchakorn Koonyosying on Unsplash